It's not often in adland that agencies have the chance to tilt for
an account of the stature of Lloyds TSB's, so much licking of lips
greeted November's news that the £36 million business was in
Now, that much prized piece of business appears to be within the grasp
of Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, with Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
waiting in the wings should its rival fall at the final hurdle.
The final decision will rest with Ford Ennals, the director of group
customer management at Lloyds TSB and the man behind the review out of
the four-year incumbent, Saatchi & Saatchi. Ennals has been described by
agencies as a smiling assassin and stories circulate of him being
difficult and not the most popular of clients.
"He's been a very demanding client in every sense," says one source who
has worked before with the ex-Unilever, Reebok and British Airways
Still, Ennals has historically extracted credible work from his
agencies, and called this review in a bid to find "fresh insight" for
the Lloyds TSB brand, saying: "Now and again it's worthwhile looking
outside - you've got to be careful not to lose your perspective."
According to Ennals, Lloyds TSB "wanted to go another stage of
development with a more product-focused campaign". Saatchis, it seems,
was never really in the running. "I never felt on the product side that
the work was on a par with the brand work," Ennals admits of Saatchis'
efforts - while insiders say the agency had a few attempts at the brief
before it was acknowledged it couldn't crack it.
Saatchis' outgoing executive chairman Tamara Ingram's proximity to the
business has also been one of the main reasons mooted for the departure
of the account. There is a story circulating that Ingram, now at
McCann-Erickson, knew about the loss only ten minutes after Saatchis'
chief executive, James Hall, found out. However, Ennals denies Ingram's
exit played an integral part in the review, saying she was part of an
exodus that triggered the decision. "We had a stable core team for three
years, but across the year of 2001, for reasons out of Saatchis'
control, there were personnel changes across the business," he says.
Still, industry observers point out that Saatchis has been running out
of road with Lloyds TSB for some time and that Ennals' relationship with
the agency was its only saving grace. "The relationship has helped them
survive what's been a succession of average ads that haven't really cut
through or given them a strong positioning," one observer says.
RKCR/Y&R and AMV have ideas of their own to give the brand a definite
positioning. Rainey Kelly's is said to involve the actress Cathy Burke
and, subject to her participation, it's believed the agency will secure
the business. AMV's idea reportedly mirrors the stages of financial
maturation with that of a young foal growing into a horse. Should Burke
not play ball, AMV could still canter over the finish line.
The immediate prize is a business banking project, and depending on how
that goes, Ennals enigmatically says, "there will be the opportunity to
pick up further work". Indications are that this could mean curtains for
Saatchis; however, Ennals insists the agency will remain on the roster
Whatever the reasons behind moving the new campaign out of Saatchis, the
fact remains that Lloyds TSB is being forced to react by better-marketed
products and more aggressive marketing campaigns from its
Financial services advertising remains of low interest to most people,
although a growing diversion in current account interest rates is
starting to shake customers out of their inertia. Ennals says: "Our
challenge is to present ourselves as a single brand. Before we were two
very disparate brands. We need to be a lot more specific about what
Doubtless Lloyds TSB has learnt from Barclays, whose headline-grabbing
"big" campaign might have had the "wow" factor but suffered because
consumers failed to see how it fitted in with their everyday
experiences. The M&C Saatchi work for NatWest was possibly more
successful as a piece of repositioning, despite customer complaints that
it was misleading. It is Halifax, though, that has most shaken up the
financial services market with its upbeat, headline-grabbing FMCG
"Halifax has done a good job of identifying one proposition and being
focused and consistent," Ennals agrees.
Competition has been further intensified by the emergence of a
Government-backed watchdog, which is compelling banks to make it easier
for customers to move their accounts.
Ennals plays down the significance of this legislation. "In July last
year we'd already put in place a service that will move the account in
three days, not ten," he says. "I don't think it will change what we do.
There's just a much greater level of media noise around the category
So what will Lloyds TSB's strategy be this year? "To significantly
improve service so we have a competitive advantage," he replies.
Diversifying into the energy market by making a major push into gas,
electricity and telecoms may help, but it's imperative the bank raises
its marketing game in the face of such strong competition.